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Once There Was A War
John Steinbeck
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Once There Was A War (Penguin Great Books Of The 20th Century)

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  1,354 Ratings  ·  130 Reviews
Steinbeck's dispatches filed from the front lines during World War II vividly evoke the human side of the war.
Published May 1st 1994 by Turtleback Books (first published 1958)
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Aug 24, 2012 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, kindle

When the US entered World War II, Steinbeck had been involved in writing anti-fascist propaganda for some time. He was keen to secure a commission as an intelligence officer in the armed forces, but this didn't eventuate. Steinbeck then spent time trying to get himself appointed as a war correspondent. In April 1943, the New York Herald Tribune offered to hire him if he could obtain the necessary security clearances. Doing so was not as easy as it should have been, as some people interviewed by
Ahmad Sharabiani
Once There Was a War, John Steinbeck III
عنوان: روزگاری جنگی درگرفت؛ نوشته جان اشتاین (استاین) بک؛ مترجم: محمدرضا پورجعفری، مشخصات نشر: تهران، نقره، 1369، در 300 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، علم، 1382؛ شابک: 9644053222، در 230 ص؛ موضوع: جنگ جهانگیر دوم - 1939 تا 1945 میلادی - قرن 20 م
داستان با توصیف آغاز میشود. تصویرهای زیبایی دارد که در ذهن خوانشگر مینشیند. از سرگرمی سربازان درون کشتی نیز سخن به میان آمده، در کتاب اشاره شده که درون کشتی، کتابخانه کوچکی ست که سربازان از آن سود میبرند
ا. شربیانی
Chris Dietzel
Jan 15, 2016 Chris Dietzel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The value in this book comes from gaining insight into Steinbeck's experiences as a war journalist. Anyone looking for a history lesson or additional details on WWII will be greatly disappointed. Every other nonfiction book I've read on similar topics will be more useful for such readers. Instead, Steinbeck writes about the mundane and the whimsical and offers a very vanilla perspective on the events he covered. For fans of the author, however, this is a fascinating look at how starkly different ...more
A vivid and insightful look into the realities of wartime. While Steinbeck's particular genius was perhaps better suited to novels like Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat, he makes a fine job of war journalism.

Favourite quote:

There is a quality in the people of Dover that may well be the key to the coming German disaster. They are incorrigibly, incorruptibly unimpressed. The German, with his uniform and his pageantry and his threats and plans, does not impress these people at all. The Dover man has
Jan 23, 2015 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of columns Steinbeck wrote from various places where he was “embedded” (as we call it now) with the troops during World War II. Written on a more personal level and with a different style than many columnists of the day who focused on individuals, Steinbeck’s book describes settings to make the reader feel like they are there. This makes the book unique, because there aren’t many dramatic stories, and it’s more about the day-to-day existence where sudden death can come at a moment’s ...more
Jan 16, 2017 Emre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Yıllarca korku tarafından sömürüldük biz, sadece ve sadece korku tarafından. Zulüm,yalan,kuşku... Bunlar hep korkunun çocuklarıdır. Havayı nasıl bomba denemeleriyle zehirliyorsak, ruhlarımızı da korkuyla zehirliyoruz."
Zeynab Babaxani
Mar 01, 2016 Zeynab Babaxani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
نمیتونم توصیف کنم که با این کتاب چه احساساتی رو تجربه کردم
جان اشتاین بک در این کتاب وقایع رو یک جوری میبنه و توصیف میکنه که هر کسی قادر به درک اون منظر و دیدگاه نیست
جوری که انسانهایی که زندگی رو میفهمند این منظرگاه رو تجربه کردن فقط
This is a compendium of Steinbeck's dispatches for publication in American newspapers, originally published in 1958. As one might expect, it is not the standard war journalism which was churned out by nationally-known war correspondents. Instead, the focus is on the everyday grind, fears and superstitions among the rank-and-file as well as citizens caught up in the battle (even though he could not give specifics of places or individuals). Hence it took many years before the public knew that Doug ...more
Mariel Zani Begoña
Some of these piece were deeply moving others pretty dull and irrelevant to me
Este es un libro que consta de artículos que publicó el autor en el New York Herald Tribune cuando era corresponsal en la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Algunos de los artículos fueron super interesantes y conmovedores, otros bastante chatos, aburridos e irrelevantes
Brian Willis
Aug 01, 2015 Brian Willis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My grandfather fought in two of the same theatres featured in this book of first hand journalism by John Steinbeck. As a child, when I began to realize what World War II was and that my grandfather had played a role in it (awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for that matter), I sincerely asked him to share his experience of what it was like. I knew even then that, not only did I want a primary source account of what this climactic event of the 20th century was like, but I also knew that one d ...more
Joseph Raffetto
Sep 21, 2015 Joseph Raffetto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Steinbeck’s brilliant reporting brings alive the day-to-day lives of the troops and civilians on the ground during World War II.
Jeff Miller
May 06, 2017 Jeff Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are two factors for me to declare before this review - I adore John Steinbeck and, having grown up in a military family, I have a very complex attitude towards armed forces.

Compared to his other books, this one is less well known, and yet having read it for the first time I would rate it amongst his finest work - even when comparing with the more popular Travels With Charley. Like Grapes of Wrath, this really gets into the detail of humans in inhuman situations; his section regarding why s
Mar 07, 2017 Aaron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Steinbeck's war correspondence from the last half of 1943 covers a myriad of instances, from the mundanity of everyday soldier life to the suspense of battle, from the ubiquity of Bob Hope to the chicanery of a private Lothario. As Steinbeck was censored by the War Department, it's unlikely that historians will glean much, but social scientists and those interested in the culture of war will be enthralled at the various real caricatures unearthed in this volume.
I found Steinbeck's introduction to this book to be very moving, filled with melancholy, nostalgia, and some regret for those who were lost in the war. However, the book itself is a little disappointing. I'm left with the sense that he was holding back. Each piece seems to be quickly written, maybe 'jotted down' would be a better description. This is most likely the result of having to write under newspaper deadline but it could also be the point of view he used, he never refers to himself in an ...more
Jul 02, 2013 Brett rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of Steinbeck columns from his time as a war correspondent reveals contemporary views of the soldier's life at war. The book was published many years after the war, but the columns were all written during the war, and because they were written as it happened, there's a certain authenticity that can't be captured in historical writings. Although I'm sure Steinbeck took literary license with a few of the columns--particularly those dealing with an enlisted soldier who somehow tricks ...more
Nov 12, 2012 Christie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii, memoir
Wow! Steinbeck is amazing. This is a compilation of his work as a war correspondent during WWII. But, in contrast to what most correspondents were reporting, Steinbeck conveyed the emotions and life-changing experiences of the people who lived the war, soldiers and civilians alike. His words draw you in and take you to the front lines as seen through those he met while in London, Africa and Italy. It is Steinbeck's ability to capture the essence of war through his brilliant style of writing that ...more
Chad Manske
Feb 25, 2015 Chad Manske rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though John Steinbeck had already achieved great fame from writing the epic Grapes of Wrath, his desire to enter military service was great. His request was denied due to his age yet his desire remained. Finally, his request to embed with various fighting units was granted and in 1943 he was able to have his opportunities. News outlets and their correspondents, however, chaffed at the thought of Steinbeck moving into their turf, thinking his work would overshadow theirs, however, that is not at ...more
Nov 08, 2008 Frank rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read.

But really, the introduction is the best thing about it. An older, more accomplished writer looking back and commenting about the process of covering a war as a journalist during "war time." Much different than looking at the war in retrospect.

There are a few standout chapters, but I don't think Steinbeck was well suited to this type of writing. He struggles to add some levity at times (and he is a great comic writer) and in general seems to have a hard time finding his voice. Ironi
Chris Blocker
Steinbeck for Steinbeck's sake. Nothing particularly brilliant or memorable here, but these essays are full of that signature Steinbeck voice. Though I've read the majority of Steinbeck's writing, it wasn't until reading Once There Was a War that I saw in Steinbeck's lighthearted writing a comparison to Twain's charm and anecdotal style.

Written originally as war correspondence to be published in newspapers, these vignettes of WWII were later collected in this volume. Certainly some of Steinbeck'
Feb 09, 2017 KatieSuzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
These short stories may not seem very extraordinary but the circumstances of them being written make them totally unique.
William Mooney
Jan 02, 2013 William Mooney rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The best part of Steinbeck's reporting on World War Two was the variety of stories he covered. He did not simply report on whether a battle was won or lost. Instead, he focused on individual experiences, ranging from the rituals and superstitions of bomber squads, women in the British service, English civilians response after a German raid, Italian civilians during their surrender and more. Through Steinbeck's writing you get an excellent feeling of what it was like to be around Europe during th ...more
May 09, 2013 Camille rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a collection of 800-1,000 word essays Steinbeck wrote for the New York Tribune while on assignment as a war correspondent. These essays provide a unique insight of WW2 through the eyes of ordinary soldiers and civilians. From London to Algiers, Steinbeck give us a glimpse into the mundane details of war from how embarkment on large military vessels is accomplished to the disinfected water that the soldiers were forced to drink in Africa. I appreciated the details and perspective he ...more
Oct 17, 2014 Sean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is a collection of Steinbeck writing from his days as a WWII reporter.

It conveys the period sense of nationalism quite well. I really enjoyed the stories of average Americans encountering Europe for the first time. The slight superstition of war times and soldiers. He does a good job telling a handful of personal stories.

The writing in the back, perhaps as expected, uses more mainstream language than he might otherwise right. Less of the classic Steinbeck descriptions and more of narrat
Feb 26, 2013 Ola rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somehow I expected more of a Catch-22 atmosphere. But Steinbeck's war isn't that much about fighting. It's even at times quite romantic. We read a lot about the background events and about the soldiers' activities when they're not in action. Most of the time they spend waiting for anything to happen. There's no blood, very little shooting and almost no killed people. It's more about the sweat, dirt, discomfort and dullness of war.

This book will not change my life in any way, I will probably forg
I would have been more frustrated with this book if I hadn't read the Steinbeck's introduction, which makes the fairy tale quality of the stories understandable and fascinating in a way. Even so I found some stories too stiff and false to enjoy. This is not the post-war novel I was hoping for from Steinbeck, which makes sense, because he wrote the stories during the war and admits that he remembers very little of his time as a war correspondant. Still, it has its charm.
Feb 28, 2014 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second or third time I've read this. The quality of the articles is a bit mixed, but overall it's an interesting, sometimes poignant, occasionally suspenseful glimpse at a short part of WWII. I would love it if more of the book were like the last ten pages, but it is an enjoyable read about an interesting time, with angles you don't often read about.
Sep 27, 2016 Laforgue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Çok güzel bir kitap. İnsan bitmesin istiyor. Özellikle Mulligan müthiş. Aslında ne güzel bir roman kahramanı olurmuş Mulligan'dan.
Oct 12, 2016 Mel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good read. I recommend it to folks interested in what Amer. GI felt like in 1943.
Claudia  Ciardi
Jul 30, 2011 Claudia Ciardi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once there was…Es war einmal…C’era una volta una guerra, che suona più o meno come “c’era una volta un califfo per un un’ora”. Il titolo è volutamente provocatorio. John Steinbeck, scrittore americano versatile e fecondo, si è cimentato con un evento drammatico, la guerra, vissuta in prima persona, in quanto inviato al fronte. Da questa esperienza sono scaturiti una serie di “pezzi”, spesso scritti nei tempi impossibili richiesti dai giornali e in situazioni affatto comode, il cui contenuto non ...more
Steve Scott
May 11, 2017 Steve Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, military
I'm reluctant to list this as "history" as Steinbeck, for all his skills, seems to have stretched a portion of it into fiction. Some of the details of the stories couldn't have been gleaned through interviews with witnesses much less through direct observation. That said, much of it rings true and all of it is masterfully written, regardless of what license he may have taken.
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John Steinbeck III was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories.

In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley
More about John Steinbeck...

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